Visit the most beautiful lake in the North Island and see it sparkle like a gemstone amidst the mystical forests of the Urewera National Park.
Lake Waikaremoana, ‘The Sea of Rippling Waters’, lies under the precipitous bluffs of the Panekiri Range and the mist-shrouded forest of the Huiarau Range – home of the Tuhoe people, ‘The Children of the Mist’.
Travelling the 226 km from Rotorua to Waikaremoana on State Highway 38 is like a journey back in time. On the way you pass isolated pockets of pasture, traditional Tuhoe farming settlements, maraes (meeting houses), and horses wandering along the road. The drive ends at the Aniwaniwa visitor centre, where hut and campsite tickets can be purchased.
The 46 km Lake Waikaremoana Track hugs the western shoreline and takes 3 to 4 days to complete. It can be walked in either direction at any time of the year. Most people start at Onepoto with the strenuous 5 hour climb above Panekiri Bluffs, and are rewarded by stunning views over the entire lake. Beyond Panekiri hut there are 4 other huts; Waiopaoa, Marauiti, Waiharuru and Whanganui. In addition there are 5 designated campsites set in idyllic surroundings. From Day 2 to Day 4 the going is moderately easy with only 2 to 3 hours tramping between huts. Water taxis and bus shuttles connect you with each end of the track and operate from a base at the holiday park shop and boat ramp. Portions of the track can be enjoyed as a day trip by using the water taxi.
The forest, lake and mountain scenery is breathtaking. At dawn, eerie mists creep over the still, silent lake, and the moss-draped forest has a mysterious, primeval feel, evocative of the way early New Zealand must have been. The water in isolated inlets is so clear that you often see rainbow trout hovering under sunken tree trunks.
Lake Waikaremoana is one of New Zealand’s national treasures – a timeless and unspoiled universe, where tramping, fishing and swimming around its shoreline can be enjoyed by all.